Last Updated on April 9, 2021.
There’s no doubt that it’s a little irresistible to consider buying a cheap uke.
But how do you know if it will do a good job? I mean, how far can you expect the cheapest ukuleles out there to give?
Whether it’s your first instrument to buy or you already have past experience with purchasing a uke, in this article, we are going to take you through everything you need to consider before chasing down your uke so that you know what to expect for your budget.
So let’s just get right into it!
The Construction of The Instrument
The way I see it, this is one of the things that should be on the very top of your list.
If you already play the uke, strum the instrument and check if it’s buzzing.
On the other hand, if you are a beginner, I would always recommend you go shopping for a budget ukulele with someone who has more experience.
If that’s not an option, you can still look around for signs that guide you to make the right decision, and no doubt you can get the job done.
Check the built of the instruments. If you find any spots whatsoever, don’t just rush and buy this instrument, it’s not worth the money.
The second thing you want to check when it comes to the construction of the uke is if all the parts are tightly glued together.
If you find anything hanging loose, then this ukulele is not going to sound anything but awful, and you will most definitely hear an annoying rattling sound each time you play it.
Not to mention, sooner or later, you will need to fix this part so, you might as well get a perfectly built instrument from the very beginning.
Check The Neck and The Fretboard
The one thing that you need to focus your eyes on first is whether the neck is straight or not.
I know you might be thinking, “Of course, it’s straight, who would sell a uke with a bent neck.”
But, what you don’t understand is that it might be too subtle at first.
Even for those who already have a uke and somehow the neck got bent, it can take a while until they realize that the instrument doesn’t sound as good as it used to and identify that the reason is a bent neck.
You don’t see what you don’t know, right?!
Another thing to look for is how smooth the fret ends are.
You want them not to be too sharp or else it can be really annoying playing your uke, add to this, your strings will wear out more frequently.
Examine The Headstock
This one is pretty simple.
All you need to do is make sure that the headstock of uke you’re buying is not in a straight line with the neck.
There should be some angulation, which helps in keeping good pressure on the strings at the nut.
If that’s not true for your instrument, chances are, you will be hearing buzzing from your uke in no time.
When I got my first instrument, I had no idea how anything should sound, and I spent quite some time just developing a technique.
Then one day, I noticed that there’s this constant buzz in every single song I play.
I took it down to the shop because I had no experience with this at all, and it turned out, one of my tuners was loosely attached to my uke.
So, I would recommend you make sure they are perfectly stuck to their place.
And lastly, try adjusting the tuners and then check if they stay still or return back.
If they’re too loose, they will go back to the original position, which is an issue because you will need to tune your instrument way too frequently.
The Saddle and The Bridge
You don’t per se need a ruler to measure this, but the rule is:
The distance from the nut to the end of the fretboard should be more or less equal to the distance from the end of the fretboard to the saddle or the bridge.
And like mentioned above, make sure the saddle is not loosely attached to the body.
In my humble opinion, getting a uke with a removable saddle is a lot better, because in time you will be able to change it and modify its action.
Almost every new ukulele comes with a set of strings on it.
It’s okay if you are a beginner and you want to give it a try with these strings first, yet, it will make a world of difference if you change them.
The reason for this is that the strings that come with the instrument are usually very cheap and low quality.
A new set of strings will make your song sound louder and more bright, so if your budget allows it, I recommend you go for it.
With all that being said, I hope you now have a better idea about what you should be looking out for when chasing down a new budget uke, and you can easily avoid compromising the quality.
Enjoy the chase!